The 'Quarantine' That Made A Man Of My Son
Laid up with a fracture a mother watched her son grow up
Our son Aditya was a pampered kid. I had heard this many times from friends and family about our 11-year-old. They had even explained the reason why, and, you’ve never heard this before—he was an ‘only’ child.
The feedback was not excellent, quite consistently: “You’ve made him too dependent.” “Even for a simple task he asks too many questions!” etcetera, etcetera.
Although I smarted under them, I secretly admitted to being a notoriously protective Bengali mother. So when Aditya was called upon to cook, I took a deep breath. After all, this was the same kid who had once asked, before rinsing a bunch of grapes, whether he needed to put the water in the bowl, or the grapes.
I had a fall that confined me to the bed with a fractured foot in 1998. The only grim satisfaction I drew while nursing my foot was that with me in bed and his dad at work, Aditya would have to look out for himself. The stipulated one-and-a-half-month of me being out of commission would make a man out of my brat.
Everything moved like clockwork the first morning. The kid made his bed, tidied his room, completed homework, all on his own. Hallelujah! But then, it was breakfast time and I hobbled towards the kitchen. I was sent back with a firm “Do NOT worry, I’ll manage and I’ll make your breakfast too!”
“Just a slice of toast would do,” I protested weakly, trying not to think about the almost certain devastation of my kitchen.
“And eggs, you need your proteins!” I was told. “Now here’s your newspaper, just sit back and relax!”
I nearly chewed my nails off as I sat waiting. To his credit, unlike his usual self, he had refrained from asking any questions all this while.
I heard pots and pans banging, barely drowning the “Oops!”and the “Arre!”. And, not unreasonably, I imagined the worst. Then I heard the fridge opening and held my breath trying to listen.
And then, “Whoops!”
It took all my willpower to not hobble back into the kitchen. For a while, it was quiet—I was most certainly not reading the news anymore.
But then wafted in the heavenly smell of frying eggs and a few minutes later, a triumphant Aditya entered the bedroom bearing a tray in his hands. Thickly buttered toast, only slightly singed, a sunny-side up, slightly on the runny side, a mug of milky coffee and a flower in a new vase—it was undoubtedly the finest breakfast I’d ever had!
“Umm…lovely!” I leaned back and enquired, “Didn’t I hear something drop?”
“Oh yes, eggs,” Aditya replied, unperturbed, “I was trying to see if I could carry three eggs at a time and close the fridge door with my knee… I dropped just two.”
“Just two!” I was horrified, mopping up eggs wasn’t my favourite chore! “The floor, did you….”
“Don’t worry, mum,” he said, “everything is cleaned up.”
“Oh, I just called Chhotu, she did it.”
Chhotu, our egg-o-holic pet and Adi’s trusty aide, entered the room just then, still licking her chops.
When I finally checked the kitchen, it was squeaky clean, our four-legged vacuum-cleaner had done a neat job of it.
More importantly, I was assured that my kid had learnt to survive!